August 1, 2019

The apocalypse of stupidity

Comment on Richard Westra/Tom Hickey on ‘Apocalypse economics and economic apocalypse’*


Richard Westra argues: “… economic reproduction is an existential facet of all existing human societies it had always been intermeshed with other social practices–culture, religion, ideology, politics, and so on–and indistinguishable from them. Only under capitalism does economic life emerge transparently, as a separate sphere, permitting systematic study of ‘the economy’ in economic theory.” and “Mainstream economics in the neoclassical tradition which gained hegemonic status across much of the world by the early 20th century never problematizes the above important ontological fact.”

And the philosopher Tom Hickey adds: “A further complicating factor is that human knowledge is based on conceptual structures that are not fully systematized. That is, they are not algorithms. Rather, the basis of human known is narrative, a world view that is embedded in the cultural narrative.”

This is certainly true for the crap that fills the heads of ninety-nine percent of any population. The remarkable conclusion from archaeologically well-documented history is that one can tell people virtually any impossibility between prelife, the talking apple-tree snake, the apocalypse, and the afterlife and they will take it for real. The ninety-nine percenters live in the narrative fog that has been produced by storytellers, priests, historians, propagandists, the entertainment industry, and politicians. Only the one percent of scientists apprehend reality, at least a significant part of it.

Economists have not made it into the ranks of scientists in the last 200+ years. They started as political agenda pushers with pamphlets like The Wealth of Nations or Das Kapital and never got above the proto-scientific level.

Tom Hickey summarizes: “It [modern economics] is the attempt to explain the ‘economic life’ of society in terms of mechanistic and naturalistic principles that are based on equating naturalism as a methodological assumption with materialism as an ontological assumption. The units of society are viewed as individuals functioning like atoms in physics so that economics is assumed to be based on laws of nature which do not differ materially from the laws of nature discovered in physics. Thus the assumption that the methodological debate is decided, with methodological individualism and microfoundations established as key assumptions along with equilibrium and rational maximization of economic benefit for the agent.”

True enough. Standard economics is built upon this verbalized Walrasian axiom set: HC1 There exist economic agents. HC2 Agents have preferences over outcomes. HC3 Agents independently optimize subject to constraints. HC4 Choices are made in interrelated markets. HC5 Agents have full relevant knowledge. HC6 Observable economic outcomes are coordinated, so they must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)

This set of hardcore propositions is shock-full of NONENTITIES and therefore requires the same level of counterfactual belief (credo quia absurdum) as any religious narrative. HC1 to HC6 makes it abundantly clear that economics is NOT a science but a cargo cult science: “They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. ... But it doesn’t work. ... So I call these things cargo cult science because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential.” (Feynman)

What is missing? Scientific competence! Neither orthodox nor heterodox nor pluralist economists are scientists but political agenda pushers. To this day, economists do not understand how the monetary economy works. Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all approaches got profit ― the foundational concept of the subject matter ― wrong.

“The result is caricature rather than science.” (Hickey) Make no mistake, though, this plain scientific failure is not due to some insurmountable methodological difficulties of the economist’s subject matter but to the fact that economists to this day have neither grasped the difference between absurd narrative and true theory nor between showmanship and scientific competence nor between confused blather and material/ formal consistency.#1, #2

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* MRonline
#1 Circus Maximus: Economics as entertainment, personality gossip, virtue signaling, and lifestyle promotion
#2 How to spot economics trolls